ocean garbage patch

7 Underwater Facts for World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Together, let’s honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans!

1. While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean.

2. The ocean contains upwards of 99% of the world’s biosphere, that is, the spaces and places where life exists.

Both above GIFs are from the TED-Ed Lesson How big is the ocean? - Scott Gass

Animation by 20 steps

3. Jellyfish are soft because they are 95% water and are mostly made of a translucent gel-like substance called mesoglea. With such delicate bodies, jellyfish rely on thousands of venom-containing stinging cells called cnidocytes for protection and prey capture.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How does a jellyfish sting? - Neosha S Kashef

Animation by Cinematic

4. Plastics & litter that make their way into our oceans are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the largest of all is known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States. 

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

5. The 200 or so species of octopuses are mollusks belonging to the order Cephalopoda, Greek for ‘head-feet’. Those heads contain impressively large brains, with a brain to body ratio similar to that of other intelligent animals, and a complex nervous system with about as many neurons as that of a dog.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why the octopus brain is so extraordinary - Cláudio L. Guerra

Animation by Cinematic

6. Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The brilliance of bioluminescence - Leslie Kenna

Animation by Cinematic

7. Sea turtles ultimately grow from the size of a dinner plate to that of a dinner table. In the case of the leatherback sea turtle, this can take up to a decade. Happy World Turtle Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The survival of the sea turtle - Scott Gass

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

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The Art of Operation Nanobot: Part I

For the past month, I’ve had the honor of working as a concept artist with  former biologist and DePaul University cinematography professor, B Rich, and associate producer for World of Tanks, JJ Bakken, to create Operation Nanobot!



In Operation Nanobot, you are one of many robots that have been tasked with aiding with removing waste from the ocean in the Pacific Garbage Patch. As you journey from the surface to the ocean floor, you absorb hazardous plastics and free animals trapped by junk, while taking care to avoid other robots who compete with you for trash as fuel, or have gone rouge.


This is some of the work for the backgrounds and our player and enemy bots!

We’re still working on building a live site, so if you have questions feel free to DM me!

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Sea Soup: Mandy Barker’s Photo Collages of Ocean Trash

Scientists have informally dubbed the discarded human waste accumulating in our oceans with a number of names: “soup,” “trash vortex,” and most nobly, the “Great Pacific garbage patch.” The last term makes particular reference to the exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres on the planet. Gyres, large systems of rotating ocean currents, are the largest ecosystems in the world and, more recently, ground zero for massive accretions of plastic trash. In researching this phenomenon, UK photographer Mandy Barker developed a series of images entitled ‘Soup’ which depicts these plastics and discarded items salvaged from beaches around the world. Presented in beautifully precise, color-coded arrangements, the collected objects appear as a taxonomy of unique species in a toxic “ecosystem.” The images also underscore the longevity of even the tiniest pieces of trash: though haphazardly discarded and forgotten, they form an ever-growing environmental issue. Barker’s project, by bringing a seemingly remote subject into clear view, compels us to address this elephant in the room.

How nurdles are invading our oceans

In our last post, we covered what exactly a nurdle is, and warned that - much to our dismay - nurdles are far more pervasive than most people realize. The thing is, they often escape during the production process, carried by run-off to the coast, or during shipping when they’re mistakenly tipped into the waves.

Once in the water, nurdles are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres, where they convene to plan their tactics. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the headquarters of Nurdle Ocean Domination are in the Pacific Ocean, where the comparative enormity of the gyre, and the resulting concentration of pollution, is so huge that it’s known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.

Here, nurdles have good company. This gyre draws in all kinds of pollution. But because they don’t biodegrade, plastics dominate—and they come from other sources besides nurdles, too. You know those tiny beads you see in your face wash or your toothpaste? They’re often made of plastic, and after you’ve flushed them down the drain, some also end up in this giant garbage patch, much to the delight of the nurdles building up their plastic army there. And then there are the large pieces of unrecycled plastic litter—like bottles and carrier bags—transported by run-off from land to sea. Over time these plastic chunks turn into a kind of nurdle too—but one that’s been worn down by the elements, not made in a factory.

And as if they weren’t threatening enough, the rough, pitted surfaces of these microplastics—the name we give to all those collective plastic bits— waterborne chemicals “stick” or adhere to them, making them toxic. This gathering has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States.

But while this toxic tornado is circulating, the birds, fish, filter-feeders, whales, and crustaceans around it are just going about their daily business—which means they’re looking for food.

Unfortunately for them, tiny bits of floating plastic look a lot like fish eggs and other enticing bits of food. But once ingested, microplastics have a very different, and terrible, habit of sticking around. Inside an animal’s stomach, they not only damage its health with the cocktail of toxins they carry, but can also lead to starvation, because although nurdles may be ingested, they’re never digested, tricking an animal into feeling like it’s continually full, and leading to its eventual death. When one organism consumes another, microplastics and their toxins are then passed up through the food chain.

And that’s how, bit by bit, nurdles accomplish their goal, growing ever more pervasive as they wipe out marine life and reshape the ocean’s ecosystems.

So, how to break this cycle? The best solution would be to take plastics out of the equation altogether. That’ll take a lot of time, but requires only small, collective changes—like more recycling, replacing plastics with paper and glass, and ditching that toothpaste with the microbeads. If we accomplish these things, perhaps over time fewer and fewer nurdles will turn up at that giant garbage patch, their army of plastics will grow weaker, and they’ll surrender the ocean to its true keepers once more.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

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This 19-year-old has a plan to clean-up the Pacific Ocean garbage patch in 10 years

Do you have an idea on how to make the world a better place?  We’d love to see them. Get started on the Innovator Skill:

The Origin Of Ocean Garbage Patches

by Patricia Waldron, Inside Science

If you toss a message in a bottle into the ocean, instead of washing up on a distant shore, it will probably end up in one of the world’s five major floating garbage patches – but which one?

By using models of ocean currents, researchers have calculated the boundaries of each section of the ocean, which can extend beyond the traditionally defined borders. In the process, they found that they can predict which garbage patch will receive a piece of plastic depending on where the litter is tossed. The research may one day pinpoint areas where wildlife interacts with the moving trash. It may also help identify the biggest plastic polluters, which contribute to garbage patches that some researchers estimate to be twice the size of Texas.

“We’ve redefined how one should draw the borders of the oceans,” said coauthor and mathematician Gary Froyland, at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “It’s more scientifically meaningful to draw the boundaries according to where the water moves as opposed to just the legal, geographical boundaries.”

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Garbage Patch Visualization Experiment

We wanted to see if we could visualize the so-called ocean garbage patches. We start with data from floating, scientific buoys that NOAA has been distributing in the oceans for the last 35-year represented here as white dots. Let’s speed up time to see where the buoys go… Since new buoys are continually released, it’s hard to tell where older buoys move to. Let’s clear the map and add the starting locations of all the buoys…

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